TURNING PASSION INTO BUSINESS

TURNING PASSION INTO BUSINESS

January 15, 2019

Many young entrepreneurs are coming into light at present. Here two innovative entrepreneurs share the inception of their ventures. Their struggle and experience as a woman business person in the context of Bangladesh will certainly encourage the next generation to explore new paths in business.

Achia Khaleda Nila, Founder, Women in Digital

I started working when I was a student of 2nd year at the university. I had a bad experience while facing the interview. I went to apply for the programmer position, but instead they asked me to work as a designer or in the testing team. I’ll admit, that hurt my ego a lot. Then I realized that they only approached me that way because I was a woman. When I refused to do anything other than programming, I got the job i applied for. I faced many less than favorable situations while working in the IT sector as a woman and also realized that there isn’t enough involvement of women there. Then, I took up a challenge to start something of my own, only engaging women —‘Women in Digital’. The acceptance of a woman as a technology expert is yet to be found in our context. I believe I started the business out of my passion for tech and to prove the world that women too can.

The problem I faced and still face in this sector as a woman is that people don’t trust that you can do the job. In our society, it is still believed that intellectually stimulating work are only for ‘men’. Whenever I have had to deal with a team of men, they have smirked at me and made fun of me being a tech woman. I is still a bit of an issue for me, not getting a good developer for my work. Developers are skeptical about the fact that all of my employees and team members are women.

I have had many bad experiences since i stepped into a field of work women are rarely interested in. At least, that is what the society thinks. However, the worst experience I have had was with a company that I worked for. They first made a deal where it was decided that I would have half my remuneration at the beginning and then rest after the job was done. But, what played out was totally different! After completing the job , they behaved abominably. They said they won’t pay the rest of my fee because I don’t need that much money! Because I am a woman! No one would dare to even talk like this to a man!

I have always believed in the process of focus, target and action. Do not listen to what people have to say. For anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur, it is a must that the path be full of thorns. But my strategy is to go on paying no heed to the negative comments. Never stop working on yourself. There is a chance every day to be better. In my business, I always stayed focused. Never turn back. I believe every entrepreneur should stay focused to fulfill their dreams.

Interviewed by
Zakia Tasnim Chowdhury
Communications Executive, Avant-garde Productions

Taslima Miji
Founder, Leatherina and Gootipa

While it is true that I studied Sociology, it is also true that I was not working anywhere related to this subject. I started out as a reporter but when I had my baby I quit. Balancing between a newborn and reporting was becoming increasingly difficult for me. But I was also working in the computer hardware business and I was still working up until the beginning of this year.

In 2008, a friend requested that I go into business with her and initially I was not very confident about it. I told my friend that I did not know much about finance or accounting neither was I from a business background. But she was adamant and so I joined her. In 2018 I opened my own factory and have been working independently with vendors since.

Regardless of gender, there are few problems in running a business on your own. For example, the legal paperwork is extremely difficult and lengthy. Financing, licensing and certification are a nightmare. The marketing environment is very competitive in the informal sector. While implementing my passion, there are many such issues I face till date which every business owner faces.

There is this norm in our country that vendors do not put enough trust in women entrepreneurs. They think since she’s a woman, she will not be able to make the payments etc. Then there are of course the problems of harassment. I often have to face very uncomfortable questions such as why isn’t my husband here to help me out etc. It is as if without a male partner, I am not a good enough entrepreneur. For example, someone asked me while I was dragging around big bags of raw materials from Savar, why was I working so hard and why wasn’t I letting my husband carry them for me? The fact that women are perfectly capable of supporting themselves in every way is still unimaginable to many.

For today’s youth, my suggestion is to not get into anything whimsically. First and foremost, they should be passionate about the business, have solid knowledge about the sector and then a business plan along with a carefully plotted out financial and investment plan.

I would love my business to grow bigger, but for now I am trying to maintain quality through the smallest things such as zippers, linings. So entrepreneurs have to take great care about the small details because they actually matter a lot. I would also like to tell them to study about the business intensively and never stop studying. I still learn everyday and the basics of business I do not know still a hundred percent. There are online tutorials, videos, books and so much information out there for entrepreneurs to keep learning new things every single day.

‘Gootipa’ which means ‘little steps’ in Bangla, was a name I carefully chose so that it is unique and also reflects my steps into the leather goods business.

Interviewed by
Promila Kanya
Editorial Assistant, Bangladesh Post

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